Motivations and key features for a wearable device for continuous monitoring of breathing: a web-based survey.

Background: Analysis of patterns of breathing over time may provide novel information on respiratory function and dysfunction. Devices which continuously record and analyse breathing rates may provide new options for the management of respiratory diseases. However, there is a paucity of information about design characteristics that would make such devices user-friendly and suitable for this purpose.

Objective: To determine key device attributes and user requirements for a wearable device to be used for long term monitoring of breathing.

Methods: An online survey was conducted between June 2016 and July 2016. Participants were predominantly recruited via the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research database of volunteers, as well as staff and students. Information regarding the survey, consent form and a link to a web-based questionnaire was sent to participants via email. All participants received an identical survey; those with doctor diagnosed asthma completed an extra questionnaire on asthma control (Asthma Control Test (ACT)). Survey responses were examined as a group using descriptive statistics. Responses were compared between those with and without asthma using the Chi-square test.

Results: The survey was completed by 134 participants (males: 39%, median age group: 50-59 years, asthma: 57%). Of those who completed the ACT, 61% (n=47 out of 77) had sub-optimal asthma control. Of the 134 participants, 62% would be willing to wear a device to monitor their breathing, in contrast to 7% who would not. The remaining 31% stated that their willingness depended on specific factors. Participants with asthma most commonly cited their asthma as motivation for using a wearable; the most common motivation for use in those without asthma was curiosity. More than 90% of total participants would use the device during the day, night or both day and night. Design preferences among all users included: a wrist watch (nominated by >90% for both day and night use, out of four body sites), the ability to synchronise breathing data with a mobile phone or tablet (80%), overnight power charging (34%), and a cost of AUD100 (54%). 

Conclusions: We have explored the motivations and likelihood for adopting wearable technologies for the purpose of breathing monitoring and identified user preferences for key design features. We found participants were motivated to adopt a wearable breathing monitor irrespective of health status, though rationale for use differed between those with and without asthma. These findings will help inform the design of a user-acceptable wearable device which will facilitate its eventual uptake in both healthy and asthma populations.